★ BEER & FOOD NIRVANA EAST VS. WEST ★
2726 W. 43rd St.,
Honestly, shouldn’t the location of a beer’s origin come second to its tasty worthiness? If you believe that, then you will appreciate the beer list at Tilia, which is just as intensely curated by chef Steven Brown as anything else in his amazing joint. Beyond a bottles/cans list that include locals, nationals, and internationals, there are 21 taps (each sold in 20-, 14-, 12-, 11-, 10-, 8- and 4-ounce pours) that go spectacularly with things like potted meats, roasted jerk chicken thighs, and escargot with mushrooms and gruyere. Not your average beer snack. Not your average beer list.
★ MOST OLD SCHOOL ★
Pig & Fiddle
3812 W. 50th St.,
Everyone is so excited about the new pub grub that maybe we should take a moment and reflect: What if pierogis were the next big thing? It makes sense, what with all the beer drinking going on, right? Shouldn’t someone do classic pub fare? Chef Stephanie Kochlin at Pig & Fiddle is all in with plates such as fisherman’s pie, brewer’s rabbit stew, bratwurst mit housemade kraut, and even roasted chicken “bubble & squeak” to go with the Kaiser-worthy list of beers. Remember, sometimes you have to go back to go forward. Now pass the pierogis.
★ CUTEST COUPLE ★
Tap Rooms and Food Trucks
If you could carry a couch with you, it might make it a troika: affordable handheld sassy food, freshly brewed beer poured by its makers, and an easy happiness that all things work out.
★ BEST DRESSED BARMEN ★
Eat Street Social
18 W. 26th St.,
There’s something about a vested and fedora-ed gentleman who shakes your icy cocktail to the highest heights. They’re serious, and so are those drinks.
★ BIGGEST OVERACHIEVER ★
5000 Penn. Ave. S.,
The next generation of Broders have the empire well in hand. Look soon for a new wine bar across the street.
★ MISS CONGENIALITY (BEST SERVICE) ★
La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Ave.,
Saying that La Belle Vie has the best service in Minneapolis seems a little unnecessary, like noting that the Foshay Tower is the best Foshay Tower. Well, duh. La Belle Vie does stand out as singularly: the host greets you by name as you walk up the grand steps and relieves you of your coat; servers are swift, deferential, and truly useful. Most significantly, from your initial step in the door to the final sweets plate of mignardises, you are made to feel like some lord of a British manor—your needs important and understood, and then well met. In fact, you could say that La Belle Vie, with its well-directed service, makes you feel just as singular as the Foshay Tower, and that’s both a neat trick and necessary to note.
★ MOST ANTICIPATED PATIO ★
W.A. Frost & Company
374 Selby Ave.,
St. Paul, 651-224-5715,
Every year we wait in our hutches to see if we glimpse the shadow of a 55-degree March day so we can call Frost to see if they have chairs out. It’s their gift and their curse.
★ BEST ESCAPE ★
Vincent A Restaurant
1100 Nicollet Ave.,
Get out of the habitrail and pass right by the fleet of food trucks. You deserve good food and real service. The prix fixe lunch changes weekly.
★ BEST GENTENARIAN ★
211 W. 7th St.,
St. Paul, 651-222-3476,
The old geezer never looked so good! A refreshed and newly styled market, a new full-service rooftop restaurant, a coming pastry and gelato shop, and still lines out the door for a good ol’ slice of flat pie.
★ INSIDER FIND OF THE YEAR ★
The Left Handed Cook
Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St.,
The true secret to our amazing culinary landscape is our invisible tractor beam. We send our sons and daughters out into the world to learn and grow. Then, when the time is right, we flip the switch and haul them back. Kat Melgaard was in L.A. with Thomas Kim when she started feeling the pull—thankfully, she grabbed him for the ride. The two landed in Minneapolis with the idea of opening a shop and bet their pocket change on a spot in Midtown Global Market. That’s a big gamble as there’s no alcohol (yet) and the crowds are mostly driven by Allina lunchers, but guess what, this food transcends all that. Comfort food played out with Asian ingredients and a little of the Angelino new punk edge has been driving foodists here for the already legendary 21-spice fried chicken and a poutine with pork belly and kimchi, among other things. This stall alone could spread out and make the market a hotter destination.
★ BEST SPLIT PERSONALITY ★
Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma and Brasa
University Ave. SE,
Brasa, 600 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-379-3030,
There are two sides of the Alex Roberts coin: one side is a refined tasting-menu Alma with gorgeously curated plates, while the other side is down-home cooking braised meats Brasa with Latino-Creole-crazy tics. You flip,